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CEO Blog: Network Mobility – It’s More Than Wireless

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In 2012, the term “mobility” has become more than a pure wireless connection for consumers – it’s a gateway to access popular services, personal media and the cloud anytime, anywhere.

Behind this mobile curtain lies an intelligent network that enables services to follow subscribers from location to location, and affect how they access their content. This has powerful implications to the world of computing as we know it.

In today’s world, people are no longer tethered to a stationary PC, as witnessed by the “bring your own device” (BYOD) phenomena. In the last few years, smartphones and tablets have transformed from social and entertainment “toys” to business productivity tools. In fact, Forrester Research found that by 2015, 1 in 3 US online consumers will use a tablet, and more often than not they will be bringing these devices into the workplace. No one can question the tablet’s ability to better enable business users to access, collaborate and share information in real time, whether they are at home, at work or on vacation.

In addition to productivity gains, the proliferation of mobile devices has led to the creation of a new mobile ecosystem comprised of users, devices, operating systems, clients, applications, and the network itself, which gets increasingly harder for IT to manage.

This new world of mobile computing is causing many enterprises to rethink their network strategies as companies no longer dictate the device, even though they still control the environment in which that device operates. This shift has already greatly changed the shape of network traffic, and it is presenting an entirely new set of challenges and expectations on the network in terms of access, performance, and security.

What is needed from the network? The network has to get smarter so it can distinguish users and what devices they’re using. It has to know where they roam and give specific levels of access — through role-based authentication — because enterprises have to keep out unauthorized users. The network has to keep track of everything in motion.

"The coming years are gearing up to be one of the most memorable inflection points for the enterprise since the Internet debuted, where smartphones and tablets take over more traditional forms of computing." -President & CEO, Extreme Networks, Oscar Rodriguez

Policy management plays a critical role here and will fast become a must-have in the enterprise. The networking industry no longer has the luxury of simply adding more bandwidth when it comes to mission-critical information. With the explosion of employee-owned devices, each device will likely have a different set of applications per user. The traffic is no longer predictable.

Policies need to be applied based on the criteria of acceptable network access and activity as well as the type of bandwidth and quality-of-service that individual users require. This will be the network’s key role in boosting productivity in the mobile world. It will help give control to all the services on the network, and boost performance for multimedia or data where and when it’s needed most.

Further, many industry analysts are forecasting 2012 to be the year of “Big Data.” With the mass adoption of social media, sharing and communities, nearly 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in just the past two years, and that means data across networks will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

This exploding volume of electronic data requires scalable, intelligent networks that can transport and store massive amounts of information, providing flexibility for enterprises to build their core networks and cloud data centers.

The coming years are gearing up to be one of the most memorable inflection points for the enterprise since the Internet debuted, where smartphones and tablets take over more traditional forms of computing. The onus is on businesses to make intelligent choices on how to build a mobile ecosystem with their infrastructure for long-term success. Organizations will be judged by the networks they have in place, and their ability to recognize users and help them access resources regardless of where or how they connect. The quality of today’s network will play an important role in the transformation and evolution to tomorrow.

Oscar Rodriguez is President and CEO of Extreme Networks, a provider of high performance Ethernet network solutions and services for the mobile world.